Cook County has now joined the City of Chicago by passing a paid sick leave ordinance. The Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, passed on October 5th, mandates that covered employers in Cook County, Illinois, allow eligible employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each 12-month period of their employment. The Ordinance becomes effective on July 1, 2017, although, as noted below, suburbs have the ability to opt out of the ordinance and some may elect to do so.
Individuals are entitled to benefits under the Ordinance if they:
- perform at least two hours of work for a covered employer while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the County in any particular two-week period; and
- work at least 80 hours for a covered employer in any 120-day period.
Covered employers are those with a place of business within Cook County that gainfully employ at least one covered employee. The Ordinance does not apply to collective bargaining agreements in force on July 1, 2017.
Employees can use paid sick leave:
- for their own illness, injuries, or medical care (including preventive care);
- for the illness, injuries, or medical care of certain covered family members;
- if the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence or a sex offense; or
- if their place of business or the child care facility or school of their child has been closed by an order of a public official due to a public health emergency.
Carry Over, Restrictions on Use, Notice, Termination
Under the Ordinance, employees may carry over half of their unused paid sick leave (up to 20 hours) to the next 12-month period.
Covered employers are permitted to set reasonable minimum increments for the use of paid sick leave, not to exceed four hours a day.
Employers may require that employees provide up to seven days advance notice if the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable. If the need for leave is unforeseeable, employees must provide as much notice as is practical. The Ordinance states that employees may notify their employers of the need for leave by phone, email, or text message.
The Ordinance further provides that unused, accrued sick leave does not need to be paid out upon termination or separation of employment.
If a covered employer has a policy that allows employees paid time off in an amount and a manner that meets the requirements of the new Ordinance, the employer is not required to provide any additional paid leave.
Employers with operations in Cook County should review the specifics of the Ordinance and ensure compliance. At the same time, employers should also keep an eye out for paid sick leave-related resolutions in the particular suburb in which they operate. According to an opinion by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, suburbs may opt out of the requirements of the Cook County Ordinance, and many suburbs are already in the process of passing resolutions that will exempt their local businesses.